Goodbye to my good friend…

Sensei Posted in Profiles
Jack Gineo
Here is the only recording I have of Jack
Recently I read a blog entry in my friend Erica. She wrote about the sudden death of a friend and I was truely touched by her post. I felt for her. Well as fate would have it I got a call this morning informing that my good friend was dead. I was shocked. I had been writing him an email when I got the call so we could get together for lunch and catch up. Guess I waited to long. Life is short. He has reminded me of this as he use to when he was alive. I am sad for my loss of his friendship, real friends are so hard to find. I am sad for his wife. I am sad for the world because he had so much to give.

It is hard to read the signs life gives us but I am beginning to read them. My message has been real clear, enjoy life and live it to the fullest. Let those you love know you love them…now! Life is often very busy and we can’t always get together when we want to. I am glad of one thing, I called him a week ago to see how he was doing and to say hello. I can still hear his voice, he was a kind and supportive person, a person I admired…a role model. I’m writing this for me but hope the reading may help others as well. Pick up the phone and call if you can get together, do it now.

Who is my friend? His name is Jack Gineo, he was a great man. Here is what his obituary said…58, of Coventry, died suddenly, Friday morning, (May 19, 2006) at the St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie, FL. Jack was born August 16, 1947 in Hartford, the son of John and Marie Cavallari Gineo and grandson of James and Ruby Cavallari and Giovanni and Sebastiana Gineo. He is predeceased by his beloved father and grandparents. He is survived by his wife of 14 years, Virginia Tewksbury; his mother and sister, Mary and Jane Gineo, both of New Britain; brother, Mark and his wife, Leigh Gineo of Sarasota, FL. He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Alice Tewksbury of Glastonbury; his wife’s children, Roy Merluzzo and his wife Lisa and their children, Nicholas, Brandon, and Isabelle; Jay Merluzzo and his wife Laura and their children, Amalia, Mia, and Celia; Elizabeth Merluzzo Fahey and her husband Kevin and their children, Quinn, Brody, and Joseph; and many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family. Before retirement, John worked for the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut Community College System as a project manager in Information Technology for 19 years. He recently found his dream job of academic advising of students at the Continuing Studies Center at the University of Connecticut. He served in the U.S Army, 25th Division and 3rd Infantry Division, from 1968-1972 as a sergeant. He is a Veteran of the Vietnam War and received an Army Commendation Medal, two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts. He was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also was a founding member of the Vietnam Veterans of America CT Chapter and instrumental in the establishment of the Manchester Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He was involved in organizing and managing the Special Olympics at the University of Connecticut during the 1980’s. Jack loved life and enjoyed entertaining and cooking for his many friends and relatives. He was a life-long student with a constant thirst for knowledge. He also enjoyed working with his wife in their many gardens.

My GOD bless him and see him into heaven.

Jackie Chan, Man of Honor

Sensei Posted in Profiles

No it is not the title of a new Jackie Chan movie! Man of Honor is the title is bestowing upon Jackie Chan for his numerous charity works. Recently this International superstar, Jackie Chan, is adding the power of his celebrity to the service of the Red Cross. Joining the ranks of Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis and Julianne Moore, Jackie Chan will begin promoting the humanitarian missions of the international organization. Jackie Chan will actually participate in some help operations as well as lending financial contributions and solicitation of the same. From the information available to us it seems Jackie Chan benefitted from the charity of the Red Cross as a child and swore to aid them if life gave him the opportunity to do so. Obviously Jackie Chan’s life has given him this opportunity and being a man of his word, a man of honor, he is keeping the promise he made as a child.
Once again, is saluting Jackie Chan, not for entertaining us but for showing us that fame does not negate our need to help our fellow man. Thank you.

Fighting Autism to Earn a Black Belt!

Sensei Posted in Profiles

Hendersonville, N.C., USA
Michael Joyce Jr., recently earned his Black Belt in Karate at the age of 27. Now this may not seem like a big deal but Michael Joyce Jr., is autistic. Over the past six years he worked his way to his Black Belt one baby step at a time. If you ask Joyce what brought him from beginner to the ultimate-success status of holding a black belt in karate, he sums it up in one word: “Perseverance.” The principle of progress through ‘baby steps’ is well known but most people are not wise enough or strong enough of will to have the perseverence to follow this simple advice. No so with Mr. Joyce.

Joyce’s journey started six years ago when his parents brought him to observe a class at Karakido Karate on Four Seasons Boulevard. “He didn’t have much interest in anything before karate,” says his mother, April Joyce. After that first class, Joyce begged his parents to join the other students on a regular basis. A transformation took place whenever he was on the mat during the two weekly classes — he became a focused and motivated practitioner of martial arts. Master Roger Yarborough of Karakido Karate, notes that success in Karate emphasizes the individual journey and takes personal hurdles into account when evaluating one’s progress. Martial arts is open to beginners from all walks of life, from the very young to the elderly and the physically handicapped.Michael Joyce, Jr.

Karate was originally recommended for Joyce because studies have shown it benefits people with autism as well as those struggling with attention deficit disorder. Martial arts may trigger a balance in left-brain and right-brain activity, enhancing focus in its participants. Joyce is especially skilled at Kata. Master Yarborough’s program of Karakido, which loosely translates as “open yourself to the way of inner power,” blends the most effective techniques of martial arts. It stresses flexibility of styles to meet specific needs. For Joyce and most of Yarborough’s students, this flexibility is essential to drawing out personal strengths. “Martial arts has increased the quality of Michael’s life,” says Yarborough. “He feels empowered and confident, and can more easily branch out and become accomplished in other aspects of life.” There is little doubt Joyce will continue to progress. In class most nights, he is showing other students the techniques he knows. His black belt in karate, his teacher and parents think, is only the beginning of what Joyce will achieve.

Since Joyce began honing his karate skills, his “ability to speak publicly has increased dramatically,” Master Yarborough says. With Yarborough’s help, Joyce’s speech impediments, such as a stutter, and uncontrolled hand wringing have decreased. “Michael was once shy with people who were new to him, and since studying martial arts it is no longer an issue,” Yarborough says. “He has a real love for life, and sets an example we can all learn from.”

Joyce’s transformation began more than 10 years ago, when his parents consulted with a California pediatrician. The doctor recommended that Joyce change his diet, eliminating problem foods such as sugar, wheat and dairy. “The strict diet is difficult to follow but makes a huge difference,” says Joyce’s mother, April. Previously absorbed in “his own world,” for the first time he started showing interest in outside things. April Joyce, already trained in Lovaas Therapy, a behavior modification program for treatment of people with autism, started applying the therapy to her son, encouraging him to learn to adapt to his environment. She attributes his achievements to a combination of three factors — diet, behavior therapy and appropriate doses of medication. “Unfortunately parents tend to believe professionals when they give limitations on what those with autism can achieve,” his mother says. “I was told he would never read for pleasure, and he certainly reads well now.” To improve Joyce’s fine motor skills, his parents enrolled him in piano lessons. “We discovered that Michael has perfect pitch when he started playing ‘tricks’ on his piano teacher by changing the key, unannounced, of the pieces he would perform,” says his father, Michael Joyce Sr. To everyone’s amazement, he naturally played in different keys without any instruction from his teacher. Now he is learning to play the guitar.

Our complements to both Michael Joyce, Jr. for his achievement and Master Yarborough for his dedication and commitment to his students success. Masters like Master Yarborough give the Martial Arts its good reputation!

No Limits for Leremy!

Sensei Posted in Profiles

Leremy KirkChillicothe,OH, USA.

The Chillicothe Martial Arts Academy has a truely amazing student. 12-year-old Leremy Kirk is becoming an adept Karate kid despite the fact that he is less than five feet and lacks use of his legs. Leremy and his instructor, Sensei Bryan Speakman, have collaborated for the last 18 months on formulating Shotokan Karate movements done from a wheelchair or on a mat. Leremy is currently ranked a green belt and he earned it the hard way, with a lot of practice! He faces the same requirements as all the other students, no free ride which is the way Leremy likes it. Karate isn’t Leremy’s only athletic interest, he also plays golf and wrestles, but not for the school. Unfortunately his school are unsure of what to do with Leremy, luckily Sensei Bryan Speakman does! In true Budo spirit Leremy refuses to allow the loss of control of his legs to affect his interests. The boy sustained permanent injuries destroying nerves in his legs and causing him to have problems with his bladder requiring a nurse to assist him at school. While he cannot participate in the school sports program he does participates in gym class and other activities. “If he sees something and likes it,” said Melissa Dalton, the boy’s mother. “He’s going to find a way to do it.”

Leremy Kirk and Sensei Bryan Speakman, you have our highest respect. Visit our new Forum to discuss this story. OSU!

Profile: Jet Li

Sensei Posted in Profiles

Jet Li was a martial art world champion several times. He started training at the Beijing martial art academy at age eight, and won five gold medals in the Chinese championships in the acrobatic martial art wushu when he was 11; his prize was aJet Li trip to Washington D.C. to meet President Richard Nixon. In his teens, he was already a national coach, and before he was 20, he had starred in his first movie: Shaolin Temple (1979), which started the 1980s Kung-Fu boom in mainland China. He first attempt at directing, “Born to Defend”(1986), met with failure however this did not hamper his success. He is the biggest Asian movie star after Jackie Chan, though Jet Li seems to have a greater range of acting ability playing dramatic and comedic roles equally. He relocated to Hong Kong, where he was the biggest star of the early 1990s Kung-Fu boom as well.

Jet Li has announced his newest movie Fearless will be the last martial arts film he makes. He wants to concentrate on other matters in the future because of his concern that the violence in martial arts movies sends the wrong message. Jet Li wants to make more philosophical family oriented movies, one of the projects he apparently wants to focus on is a documentary about Buddhism. This change in Jet Li must be in part due to true love and wife, Nina Li Chi. Of his wife Jet Li said “You realize, `I put myself out there. I can give up my fame and success, give up my status, give up my money. I’m even willing to die for her.’ You realize this is love”. Proof of his devotion came in 2000, when originally cast in the role of the character Li Mu Bai in Ang Lee’s martial arts blockbuster Wo hu cang long (2000) (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) he turned it down because of a promise to his wife Nina Li Chi that he would not work while she was pregnant. Jet & wife Nina Li Chi became parents to a 6 lb. 13 oz. daughter, Jane. [19 April 2000]. Jet Li himself related this during an appearance on the Tonight Show promoting “Kiss of the Dragon”.

Jet Li escaped the serious injury on December 26th, 2004 when he escaped the Tsunami following a 9.0 earthquake in theJet Li Indian Ocean. Jet Li did injure his foot while escaping with his four year old daughter while vacationing in Maldives. The two were in the lobby of their hotel when the wave came ashore. Scooping up his daughter and running for higher ground, a piece of furniture hit his foot, causing the injury.

“Fearless,” is the story of Chinese martial arts pioneer Huo Yuanjia. His films include more than two dozen Chinese action movies along with violent Hollywood productions such as “Lethal Weapon 4”, “Romeo Must Die”, “Kiss of the Dragon” and “Unleashed.” Li said he started in martial arts because he wasn’t considered physically suited for other sports. “The teacher assigned everyone a sport and picked the tall students for basketball and the fast ones for athletics,” he said. “Since I wasn’t tall enough or fast enough, I could only do martial arts.” Li, 42, said he began taking a greater interest in spiritual matters in his mid-30s when he realized “it wasn’t enough to have a strong body, you had to have a strong soul.” A practicing Buddhist, Li said he now divides his time between charity work and show business. Most recently he took part in a lecture series organized by the Chinese Red Cross to promote psychological health among students. He studies English with a tutor for 4 hours a day.

Chicago Karate Giant Dies in Plane Crash

Sensei Posted in Profiles

Ken Knudson 2002Ken Knudson 2003

Ken Knudson started taking Martial Arts classes in 1965 in Chicago’s Northwest Side, it was a perfect fit. By the late 1960s, Knudson quit his job as a toolmaker and established Olympic Karate Studios throughout the Chicago area. He owned 10 studios but sold them in 1974 to concentrate on his hotel chain. In 2003 he was featured in a issue of Martial Arts Digest, the article began: “Ken Knudson was a fighting legend from Chicago.” Ken Knudson, 61, was an athletic man who loved martial arts and was a 5th-degree black belt.

Dr. Greene vs Ken Knudson 1974Ken Knudson founder and owner of Sybaris Clubs International, was killed along with three other men when a twin-engine Cessna 421B plunged into a corporate park Monday near Palwaukee Municipal Airport in Wheeling. Near by security camera caught the final seconds of the horrific plane crash. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Rollie McDonald who worked for Ken Knudson, starting as a janitor and working up to his present position as a hotel property manager described Ken Knudson as “So full of energy, and his presence lit up a room”. “Ken was like a rock,” said his daughter-in-law, Anna Knudson, 36. “He was so solid.” Ken Knudson is survived by his wife, Charlene, and son, Scott.
In related news the widow of one of the passengers filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against all parties associated with the crash.

Is it a Family Thing?

Sensei Posted in Entertainment, OffTopic, Profiles,Tags: , , ,

So it’s Saturday and I decided to do talk about something different…Nicole Saba. Now chances are that you have no idea who Nicole Saba is, honestly neither did I until a random search on my surname, Saba. But the more I read the more interested I became, especially since there is a remote chance we could be related. So who is Nicole Saba?Nicole Saba is a very talented Lebanese singer and actress. Her most recent album was released in 2004 and has been well received. While I have not found an English version of the album the single I heard, Bahebak Awy, was great and would easily suggest everyone take a listen. While her work seems to only be for sale in Arab nations I bet an English version would do well here in the West. Most recently, in November of 2005, Nicole performed with the rock band Scorpions while on tour in Doha, Qatar. Nicole’s performance before the 4,000 people in attendance from around the region was described as spectacular! Nicole has expressed her honor to take part in such an event, which she considers a chance of a lifetime, especially the fact that she sang with such a popular band. Nicole was scheduled to accompany them on their tour for three more stops and perform a duet with the band.

As an actress her career is short but distinguished with a 2003 release of a very successful film “Al Tajruba Al Denmarkia” (A Dutch Experience). Nicole is looking to expand her film audience beyond the Arab nations and is rumored to be in talks to co-star along side well know American actress, Demi Moore. Nicole confirmed this rumor but stated that the project has been slightly postponed due to the current conditions in Lebanon. In the mean time she has been cast on a few popular Arab Television shows. Most of her career activity is centered in Egypt which prompted her to shift her career to Cairo. The singer bought an apartment in Al Maadi district, and plans to reside there with her mother on a permanent basis. Nicole noted she will occasionally visit Beirut but feels living in Egypt is more suitable for her career, since most of her recording takes place in Cairo along with her numerous roles in different Egyptian movies.

Now much of the information available about Nicole is in the form of press releases so it doesn’t go very deep. However what I did find indicates that Nicole has not had an easy road to success. Referring to some recent contract issues she is facing one article states “Despite the difficulties Nicole encountered at the beginning of her career, she has overcome the obstacles and risen to the top.”. Also in January her former Manager filed charges against her which could bar her from performing in Egypt, where she now lives. But if she is a Saba she will fight on and eventually prevail! To often people only remember the successes of celebrities and forget the problems and challenges they faced on their way to success. We must not forget this lesson because those who fail to handle the challenges are never remembered and there in lies the lesson. Be strong with a Budo (justice) spirit and never give up. I am sure Nicole will prevail become more successful because of her experiences, positive and negative.

So who is Nicole Saba? She sounds like someone who knows what she wants and who has overcome many obstacles, a very dynamic woman! The more I read about Nicole the more I think we probably share some ancestral blood-line, we are both very motivated and have overcome numerous obstacles to get where we are… I seriously doubt we are related but it would be kind of neat if we are! Well Nicole Saba, if you are reading this thank you for the great song and hopefully we will hear or see more of you in the West. And if you make it to America, please feel free to stop by for dinner with me and my family! Either way I have sent Nicole a message and hope to hear from her soon. Until then let’s all wish her the best in life and career…after all her and I could be related!

From Beauty Pageant to Karate Gold Medalist!

Sensei Posted in Profiles

Gretchen MalaladSoutheast Asian Games karate gold medalist Gretchen Malalad is a knock-out in and out of the ring. As pictured here Malalad participating in the 2003 Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant, isn’t new to being cited for her athletic skills and beauty. “I wasn’t among the finalists,” she said, “but I won the Miss Talent and Miss Red Bull Energy Drink special awards.”
Malalad, thrice a karate gold medal winner in three successive SEA Games, displayed her curves in the February issue of FHM, thus becoming the first Filipino female athlete to do a sexy pose in the magazine which usually features movie stars, starlets and other attractive women. The 26-year-old wore a two-piece bikini in two colored photos.

She has taken all of these experiences and landed herself a job as a broadcast reporter in the PBA for ABC-5 and one or two movie appearances. She also did a supporting role in the tele-series Panday of ABS-CBN. Asked about her sporting career, Malalad said she’s hoping to improve her bronze medal finish in the Busan Asian Games when she competes in the quadrennial meet late this year in Doha, Qatar. My favorite comment though is when she said “Baka last hurrah ko na ‘to,”!

Another example of the Martial Arts leading to the overall confidence and success in someones life!
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The Martial Spirit, the Holiday Spirit!

Sensei Posted in Profiles

It has been said before here that the Martial Arts fosters community involvement, personal sacrific and selfless acts. The following story captures this truth, it is a thank you letter written by Dr. Jim Thomas of Richmod Indiana to his students…
Thank you everyone from the United States Karate System. Christmastime is a special time of year for everyone. Some less fortunate families in Wayne County area and surrounding counties had a merrier Christmas because of a project I’ve continued for many years.
This year about 70 families had hundreds of dollars each in toys (new) given to them. We were able to adopt several families within our own memberships who’ve known people who needed help during this season. We also gave lots to the Circle You and Dunn Center plus more.
Our members were encouraged, if they could, to give a little. No money, just toys new and used. Many, many thousands of dollars in toys poured in that filled our training floor — even some who just knew of our unannounced project.
I’ve done this for so long, it’s easy for me. I announce a project with hundreds of members who all took part. A noble effort by these who by years past surpassed my plans. I watched family after family bringing in toys, clothes, food — wow! Some families even the “lil” ones parted with their toys so other kids could have Santa and the elves fix up and give to kids who Santa needed to give to around the world (Richmond area). Even the teens took delight giving outdated games, pocket games, large things, etc., knowing the deal with Santa — lots of work they parted with things normally they would not.
As the presents poured in I wept! As a proud martial arts instructor with many of my own “lil” ones, I knew 10,000 plus in toys would take care of many. Miracles do happen, with leaders of groups who are willing to put a little extra help in.
To all my members, families and others who gave unselfishly — I’m proud of you! It makes me, a proud karate teacher for decades, more proud than words can describe.
“Lil” Jake, who let loose of his prized Spiderman (big stuffed toy), cried giving it away. I said, “Ouch. Keep it, Jake.” However Jake said, “No, I’ll get another. Santa won’t have to fix him because he was my friend.” Mom and dad ensured Jake got lots of Spiderman stuff — cool. He wanted Legos this year. Spiderman was OK but for kids, he said (at age 7). Sorry, Santa. Spiderman, then Legos and before you know it, it’ll be a car!

We want to thank Dr. Jim Thomas for his efforts and for sharing this letter with us. May it serve as inspiration for others to help those less fortunate not only during the Holiday season but throughout the year. For Jim Thomas and all of his students…OSU!!
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4 Year Old Taijiquan Practitioner in Action!

Sensei Posted in For Kids, News, Profiles

Yesterday in Haikou city, south China’s Hainan province…
Xiang Yuxuan
Four-year-old Xiang Yuxuan is practicing Taijiquan with a senior player during the 2nd World Taijiquan and Health Conference. Taijiquan is a traditional sport in China with a 300-year history and now becomes one of the most popular exercises in the world.
Yin-Yang Boxing A Chinese internal art form based in the principles of Yin and Yang. Today’s predominant styles of Taijiquan are Yang, Sun, Wu, and Chen. T’ai Chi Ch’uan or Taijiquan commonly known as T’ai Chi, Tai Chi, or Taiji, is a nei chia (“internal”) Chinese martial art which is known for the claims of health and longevity benefits made by its practitioners and in some recent medical studies